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Activism


There are more than 1.6 million nonprofit organizations in the United States. What is a Nonprofit Organization and How is One Established?

Wow ... that's more than I expected. Why would anybody ever need to start another one? There must be a nonprofit organization for every possible need! I bet there are several competing nonprofits for every possible need.

Not all of these organizations are charitable. Some are political. A lot are set up by business interests.

I bet that most people wouldn't label themselves as "activists". Most people probably find themselves busy enough with work & family obligations, and perhaps they are involved in church or school activities. They don't think they are doing anything special, just living their lives.

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I live in an apartment building. There is supposedly a tenant's organization ... I find flyers attached to my door every month or so. The flyers flog the building management and encourage the tenants to organize our voices into an effective choir.

However, when I'm unhappy about my apartment, I take things up with management directly. So far that has always worked. The flyers tell me about awful things -- including a story about a dead tenant who was not found for two weeks, and a story about an assault that occurred in another building. I didn't think that these things were management's fault, though. I feel like an activist is trying to drag me into battles that I don't think are necessary! Isn't the good thing about being a tenant your ability to give one month's notice and move away if you aren't happy? What good does it do for tenants to sit around and bitch together about how awful their management company is? If it is that bad, move!

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Some people have a generally kind view of activists. Others see them as troublemakers. I have known many people who have volunteered for causes, who have sat on charity boards, who have acted as treasurer for their churches. I've seen activists organize marches and parades. Activists knock on doors and make phone calls to raise money or educate people.

My mother was incredibly active in her church and in other volunteer organizations.

Democrats and Republicans alike depend on activists to help win their campaigns, even in this modern age of multi-million dollar budgets.

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What motivates people to become active in these ways? Some people become active because they want something for themselves. There was a group of activists here in DC who fought very hard to keep a road closed, many of those people owned real estate in the neighborhood and wanted to preserve their property values by keeping traffic out.

Some people become active because they want the world to look more like their ideals. They have certain beliefs about how the world ought to be, and they work hard to push the world in that direction. They lobby their elected representatives for laws and budgets, they try to educate people. They seem to think that if only they could educate enough people about the plight of [whatever] that they'd fix things. And sometimes they do :-)

Some people become active as a way of feeling involved in their communities. They make and maintain friendships, they get out of the house, they feel a sense of pride in their surroundings.

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Some people are active in less obvious ways. They work at low-wage jobs and raise their children. They work for the government as teachers, police officers, or accountants. They tend to their gardens, read the editorials, and vote. They visit the graves of their loved ones. They write letters. They go to church and sit in the back and sing the hymns.

Some people join the military and risk (or give) their lives for their country. Some people take on management responsibilities so they can save more for their children's college expenses. Some people listen to their friends and offer sage advice, or throw parties to make sure all are having a good time.

There are so many ways to live a life, so many ways to contribute. And there will always be more that could've been done.


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